Detroit develops homeland plan

In one of the first such documents to come out of local government, Detroit

has published a detailed plan on how it intends to develop stronger defenses

against terrorist acts while boosting the city's regular services.

The 10-point plan includes as its first actions such things as:

* The appointment of a city homeland security coordinator.

* Suggestions for linking emergency services through a wireless interoperability

network.

* The establishment of an Internet-based public health disease surveillance

system.

* Promotion of better links among stovepiped city government systems

to allow more thorough data mining and analysis.

The goal, according to John Cohen, president and chief executive officer

of PSComm LLC and one of the main authors of the plan, is to use a cost-effective

way to create an infrastructure that could stop the next terrorist act while

also improving the city's ability to deliver everyday services.

"The traditional approach to homeland security involves people spending

millions of dollars on equipment and infrastructure that is only rolled

out in the event of a major emergency such as a terrorist act," Cohen said.

"Financially that doesn't make much sense for cities that are strapped for

funds, and it won't necessarily prevent the next act of terror."

The plan will enable the city to take advantage of federal funding intended

for homeland security, he said. "But everything in the plan is designed

to be achievable whether the city gets that funding or not."

The plan is designed to accommodate Detroit's "unique" personality as

a point of entry on the northern border of the United States, as the home

of the auto industry, as a prominent symbol of the U.S. economy, for its

diverse population, as the largest city in Michigan and other features.

Cohen expects the plan will quickly produce significant milestones,

the first being security programs and procedures designed for the international

G-8 meeting of energy ministers scheduled to take place in Detroit May 2

and 3.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached

at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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